Uncle Sam Looks To Expand Wiretap Authority. Again.
As the NY Times imagines a world where we're not already spied on constantly...
Despite the fact the phone companies now act as part time FBI surveillance analysts
with a fleeting regard to law, and dump U.S. citizen data wholesale through NSA listening posts
, Uncle Sam still apparently isn't happy with its wiretap authority. The NY Times
, oddly ignoring recent history of unprecedented telco involvement in surveillance, notes that Uncle Sam is pushing hard to expand laws requiring broadband companies are ready and willing to respond to wiretap needs:
The officials say tougher legislation is needed because some telecommunications companies in recent years have begun new services and made system upgrades that caused technical problems for surveillance. They want to increase legal incentives and penalties aimed at pushing carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast to ensure that any network changes will not disrupt their ability to conduct wiretaps.
The push to revamp CALEA is part of a broader effort to extend the law so it includes VoIP companies like Skype
, social networking websites like Facebook, and P2P software applications. But the FBI is also looking to expand its leverage over carriers that don't respond in a timely fashion to CALEA requests -- either through fines or by billing companies if government technicians are required to come in and deal with technical problems.
The Times article is annoyingly free of pesky context, ignoring unprecedented expansion of surveillance authority begun by Bush and continued by the Obama administration. As such, it's already difficult to tell where companies like AT&T end and the government begins, something evident by the security-sector response to AT&T's new private sector smartphone encryption platform
unveiled earlier this month.
The Times says this new push is "the latest example of a dilemma over how to balance Internet freedom with security needs" and the FBI is "seeking only to prevent its surveillance power from eroding." You have to wonder how the government's surveillance authority is eroding after a decade of unprecedented expansion on this front -- and what former AT&T employee turned whistleblower Mark Klein
thinks about this supposed concern for "balance."